Jones Act Lawyer

The Jones Act serves as the backbone of American maritime law. A series of laws aimed at protecting the rights of maritime crew members who have fallen ill or gotten injured while working on the water, we here at O’Bryan Law have been working to uphold the Jones Act for nearly our entire professional careers.

Over the years, the core of the Act has held true – any negligence on the part of the employer which causes or contributes to a crew member’s illness or injury, however slight, is sufficient enough to establish liability against the employer. To put it simply, anytime a maritime worker is hurt through employer negligence, the case can be taken to court and the employer may be held responsible – and this includes workers just like you.

Jones Act Workers’ Rights & Compensation

At first glance, many workers are unsure if the Jones Act will protect their rights if they or injured or fall ill while working at sea, but the fact of the matter is the Act was designed to protect the rights of workers like you, no matter what the role. Any worker with a substantial connection to a vessel in navigation, from captains to busboys and every job in between, is covered by the Jones Act. And the vessel doesn’t have to be actively navigating, either – even if the vessel is docked, if it is currently staffed and in use, it’s considered “in navigation” and that means it’s protected by the Jones Act.

If you have worked aboard a vessel in navigation, for any amount of time, and got hurt or sick during your employment, the Jones Act attorneys of O’Bryan Law can review the facts of your case and help you fight for your fair and just compensation under the Act. This compensation can include lost wages, lost earning capacity, 

medical expenses, and more, depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

Contact a Jones Act Attorney Today

If you want to make sure the scales of justice are tipped in your favor as much as possible after an accident, you need the help of an experienced maritime lawyer like O’Bryan Law. Talking to a Jones Act attorney before you sign any sort of paperwork or providing any kind of statement or testimony will help prevent your case from being lost in favor of your employer and their insurance policy.

Our combined decades of experience has led us to handle – and win – hundreds of Jones Act claims, and we’ll fight for your rights no matter where you are. Get your free case consultation today and let us defend your claim in court.

Cargo ship in port loaded with cargo


Jones Act Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a series of laws passed in the 1920s designed to protect American maritime workers from potential exploitation by their employers, specifically in cases of illness or injury.

Passed over 100 years ago by President Woodrow Wilson, the laws state that any negligence on behalf of the employer or shipowner that contributes to an employee’s illness or injury is sufficient enough to establish liability for that injury or illness against the employer, no matter how slight. Put simply, any time a maritime worker is hurt through employer negligence, the case can be taken to court and the employer may be held responsible.

What Is The Purpose Of The Jones Act?

The purpose of the Jones Act is twofold: to protect the employment of American maritime workers by ensuring the use of American vessels to carry goods between any two points in the United States, and to protect maritime workers by allowing for financial compensation and liability in the event of an accident or illness during their employment.

This policy aims to protect maritime workers by offering them the ability to stand up against the big shipping companies in the event they’re injured on the job, as well as providing stability to the United States maritime industry by sustaining jobs and maintaining a domestic shipbuilding industry.

Am I Covered By The Jones Act?

The Jones Act applies to all maritime workers working in service aboard a vessel in navigation. This means the vessel doesn’t even need to be moving when your injury or illness began, it just needs to be in active operation.

To be covered by the Jones Act, you need to be recognized under the Act’s definition of a “seaman”. Any worker with a ‘substantial connection’ to the vessel they work on is considered a seaman under the terms of the Jones Act, meaning your work and duties must contribute to the vessel’s overall function. This ranges from engineers and deckhands to workers like cooks and maintenance staff, as well as many workers onboard offshore oil rigs and other similar installations.

What Should I Do If I Am Injured While Working On The Water?

No matter when or how your injury occurred, first and most important thing is to get your injury tended to by a licensed medical practitioner. 

While still on board, the accident report is usually made by your employer. This is often critical to determining the strength of your case under the Jones Act, so make sure the report is as detailed as possible. Describe any workplace factors that may have contributed to the accident, such as poor lighting or darkness, slippery floors and surfaces, co-worker negligence, insufficient or defective equipment, insufficient manpower, unsafe procedures, or anything else that may have contributed to your accident. The more information you can provide, the better.

And above all else, try to make sure that an incorrect, incomplete, doctored, forged, or non-existent accident report does not exist in your case. This is a sad reality of many Jones Act claims, and filling out an accurate accident report immediately is your best bet in making sure the information in your report is correct and truthful.

Does The Jones Act Apply To Cruise Ships?

Within the Jones Act is a portion of the act that pertains directly to cruise ships and their workers. The act is known as the Passenger Vessel Services Act (or PVSA) and covers commercial and private passenger vessels, as opposed to the overall Jones Act which pertains to commercial cargo vessels.

It should be noted, however, that this act only covers the workers onboard a cruise ship, while also dictating when and where cruise ships are able to depart or dock during their voyage. If you are employed onboard a cruise ship and fall ill or injured during your employment, you are covered by the terms of the Jones Act. Passengers who fall sick or get injured during their voyage may be able to seek compensation with the help of a cruise ship injury attorney to help them see through the complicated laws surrounding cruise ship liability.